I became a Swedish citizen about 9 months ago, and today I was one of many "nya svenskar" here in Linköping invited to attend a ceremony welcoming all of us who have recently become Swedish citizens. I was first to arrive along with a trio, two men with African lines of descent and with them a Swedish woman.
As a result of my many years as volunteer at the Red Cro.ss I often try to guess ethnicity or country of origin and at least for one of the men, I thought "not Somali, but possibly Ethiopian". Then I went up to them and told them I had a question that I use as my way of introducing myself, of making contact. The question, stated in Swedish was, "What languages do you know? The answer was Swedish, English, Amharic so I had guessed right. That is not important.
What is important is that once again, as I have experienced over and over again, we begin to learn a little bit about each other and often as was true this time that there are things that connect us. So I have before me a pamphlet titled:
Seedling and sapling sprouting of
a drought tolerant, multi-purpose
crop from Ethiopia
So very quickly, it is so often possible to discover a bit about what the new people before me - and vice versa - have on their minds or in their minds and thus a conversation door is opened, maybe just for the moment, maybe for months or even years.
That is what Sweden has given me, the chance to know ever more people with lines of descent different from mine but with something to give to me. So I felt very much at home sitting in that room where one by one our names were called out and we went up to be welcomed, to be given a Swedish flag and a diploma and a warm welcome from the people before us.
It saddens me that so many of my fellow Americans tell me in their comments in the New York Times that they cannot imagine wanting to let anyone into their home state if the person comes from any of the countries from which so many in that room have come from.
Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent and that means for me that I have to get ready to leave for Ansgarskyrkan where my orchestera, AM Blås will give a concert this evening along with several choirs. Sweden has also given me this opportunity and I have been ever grateful.
So nothing here right now about Only-In-America